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Chapter 4 – Materials: Metals and Non-Metals

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:


Everything around us is either metal or non-metal. Substances like aluminium, copper and iron are called metals whereas substances like wood, glass, cork, etc. are non-metals. But, what differentiates metals from non-metals? It is their physical and chemical properties. Let’s learn more about the properties of both the materials: metals and non-metals.

The physical properties of metals and non-metals are starkly different. Metals have the following properties which non-metals do not exhibit:

1. Malleability:

Have you noticed different metallic substances can be moulded into different shapes? 

  • Picturise a blacksmith beating a piece of iron and creating a spade, axe, or a shovel. He beats the sheets of metal and moulds them into different shapes. 
  • A similar process is done with aluminium foil. Aluminium pieces are beaten into thin sheets that can be used for wrapping food. 
  • The property of a metal to be beaten into sheets is called malleability.
  • This property is not shown by non-metals like coal, glass or plastic.

2. Conductivity

A metal pan with a metal handle used for cooking heats up immediately, but the same pan with a plastic or wood handle does not. This happens because metals show good conductivity, whereas non-metals like wood and plastic are non-conductors of heat and electricity.

3. Ductility

Another property that is shown by metals is ductility.

  • Ductility is the ability of metals by which they can be drawn into wires.
  • It is very common to see electric wires being made from metals like aluminium and copper.

4. Sonorous

Have you ever tried banging utensils made up of metals like copper or aluminium? They make a ringing sound when struck hard. When you try something similar with two pieces of wood or a non-metal, they don’t create a ringing sound. Since metals produce ringing sounds, they are called as sonorous whereas non-metals are non-sonorous.

So, we can say that metals are malleable, ductile, sonorous, and good conductors of heat and electricity. Apart from these properties, some other physical properties of metals include:

  • High tensile strength
  • They are solid at room temperatures(except mercury which is liquid)
  • They have high boiling and melting points
  • They are lustrous

Physical properties of metals are not exhibited by non-metals like wood, carbon, oxygen, boron, phosphorus, etc.

Not just physical but chemical properties of metals and non-metals can also help distinguishing between the two. Here are a few reactions that distinguish them:

1. Reaction with Oxygen

Rusting of iron is the reaction of iron with oxygen in the presence of moisture. All metals react with oxygen to form basic oxides, which, when dissolved in water form alkali/basic solutions. However, when non-metals undergo the same reaction, the non-metallic oxides are acidic and dissolve in water to give an acid.

2. Reaction with Water

While metals are seen to be reactive with water, non-metals are not so reactive with water. It is for this reason that non-metals are stored under water. The best example of this is the storage of phosphorus under water as it catches fire immediately when exposed to air.

3. Reaction with Acids

Metals follow the ‘Reactivity Series’ by which metals which are more reactive than hydrogen replace the element from dilute acids to produce their respective salt and water. 

  • Similarly, metals that are said to be less reactive than hydrogen do not displace hydrogen from the acid, and therefore, no reaction takes place.  
  • When metals react with acids and displace hydrogen gas, it burns with a pop sound.
  • Non-metals do not react with acids.

4. Reaction with Bases

Metals react with bases to give the respective salt and hydrogen gas. However, the same reaction is not seen with non-metals.

5. Displacement Reactions

Here is a reaction. What do you think is happening here?

CuSo4+ Zn –> ZnSo4 + Cu

Zinc being more reactive than copper has displaced it from its salt to form its salt. This kind of reaction is called a displacement reaction and is a chemical property that is characteristic of metals but not shown by non-metals.

From what we know so far, we realise how important metals and non-metals are to our daily lives. 

While metals are used in making utensils, machinery, satellites, automobiles, water boilers, and many others, here are some uses of non-metals: 

  • Oxygen is a non-metal that is essential for our life
  • Non-metals are commonly used in fertilisers and manure to help enhance plant growth.
  • They are used in the water purification process
  • Non-metals are also used in manufacturing crackers
  • What are metals and non-metals?

Elements that show malleability, ductility, electrical and heat conductivity, sonority, have lustre, and high tensile strength are called metals. Substances that do not show the properties mentioned above are called non-metals.

  • Which materials are called non-metals?

Some common examples of non metals include– wood, plastic, composites, polymers, glass, etc.

  • Which of the materials are metals?

Common examples of metals include copper, aluminium, gold, silver, lead, among others.

  • What are the 5 properties of metals?

Five properties of metals that differentiate them from non-metals include–

  • Malleability
  • Ductility
  • Conductivity
  • Sonority
  • Lustre


  • Is Si a metal?

Si is the symbol for silicon, it is a metalloid. It is a better conductor of electricity than a non-metal, but not as good as a metal.

  • How are metals made?

Metals are always found naturally in the environment, and there are two processes to get them. First, the metal is extracted from an ore and then refined to separate the metal from their oxides and made useful.

There is a lot more to understanding and identifying metals and non-metals. MSVgo offers a host of comprehensive and comprehensible video material and content for a sound understanding of the materials by which the world around you is made of. Visit now to know your physical world slightly better!

There are many more uses of both metals and non-metals than those mentioned above. However, how and where these two types of materials are used depends largely upon their physical and chemical properties. If you wish to delve deeper into Materials: Metals and Non-Metals, head over to MSVgo right away!

High School Physics

  • Alternating Current
  • Atoms
  • Communication Systems
  • Current Electricity
  • Dual nature of Radiation and Matter
  • Electric Charges and Fields
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • Electron Beams and Radioactivity
  • Electrons and Photons
  • Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
  • Fluid Pressure
  • Force and Acceleration
  • Force And Laws Of Motion
  • Gravitation
  • Internal Energy
  • Kinetic Theory
  • Law of motion
  • Light – Reflection And Refraction
  • Magnetic Effects Of Electric Current
  • Magnetism and Matter
  • Management Of Natural Resources
  • Mechanical properties of Fluids
  • Mechanical properties of Solids
  • Motion
  • Motion in a plane
  • Motion in a straight line
  • Moving Charges and Magnetism
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclei
  • Oscillations
  • Our Environment
  • Paths of Heat
  • Physical world
  • Ray optics and optical instruments
  • Semiconductor Devices
  • Semiconductor Electronics: Materials, Devices and Simple Circuits
  • Simple Machines
  • Sound
  • Sources Of Energy
  • Specific and Latent Heats
  • Spherical Mirrors
  • Static Electricity
  • Systems of Particles and Rotational motion
  • Thermal properties of matter
  • Thermodynamics
  • Units and Measurement
  • Vectors, Scalar Quantities and Elementary Calculus
  • Wave Optics
  • Waves
  • Work, Power and Energy

High School Chemistry

  • Acids, Bases and Salts
  • Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers
  • Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
  • Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Alkyl and Aryl Halides
  • Amines
  • Analytical Chemistry 
  • Atomic Structure
  • Atoms And Molecules
  • Basic concepts of Chemistry
  • Biomolecules
  • Carbon And Its Compounds
  • Carboxylic acids and Acid Derivatives
  • Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structures
  • Chemical Energetics
  • Chemical Equilibria
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Chemical Reactions And Equations
  • Chemical Reactions and Their Mechanisms
  • Chemistry in Everyday Life
  • Chemistry of p-Block elements
  • Chemistry of Transition and Inner Transition
  • Classification of Elements
  • Coordination Compounds
  • Cyanide, Isocyanide, Nitro compounds and Amines
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrolysis
  • Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Equilibrium
  • Ethers and Carbonyl compounds
  • Haloalkanes and Haloarenes
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hydrogen
  • Ideal solutions
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Ionic equilibria
  • Matter
  • Matter Around Us
  • Matter In Our Surroundings
  • Metallurgy
  • Metals And Non-Metals
  • Mole Concept and Stoichiometry
  • Natural Resources
  • Organic Chemistry – Basic Principles
  • Periodic Classification of Elements
  • Physical and Chemical Changes
  • Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
  • Polymers
  • Preparation, Properties and Uses of Compounds
  • Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
  • Redox Reactions
  • Relative Molecular Mass and Mole
  • States of Matter
  • Structure Of The Atom
  • Study of Compounds
  • Study of Gas Laws
  • Study of Representative Elements
  • Surface Chemistry
  • The d-block and f-block elements
  • The Gaseous State
  • The p-Block Elements
  • The Periodic Table
  • The s-Block Elements
  • The Solid State
  • Thermodynamics

High School Biology

  • Absorption and Movement of Water in Plants
  • Adolescent Issues
  • Anatomy of Flowering Plants
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Bacteria and Fungi-Friends and Foe
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biofertilizers
  • Biological Classification
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomolecules
  • Biotechnology and its Applications
  • Biotic Community
  • Body Fluids and Circulation
  • Breathing and Exchange of Gases
  • Cell – Unit of Life
  • Cell Cycle and Cell Division
  • Cell Division and Structure of Chromosomes
  • Cell Reproduction
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Chemical Coordination and Integration
  • Circulation
  • Control And Coordination
  • Crop Improvement
  • Digestion and Absorption
  • Diversity In Living Organisms
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Issues
  • Excretory Products and their Elimination
  • Flowering Plants
  • Genes and Chromosomes
  • Health and Diseases
  • Health and Its Significance
  • Heredity And Evolution
  • Heredity and Variation
  • How Do Organisms Reproduce?
  • Human Diseases
  • Human Eye And Colourful World
  • Human Health and Disease
  • Human Population
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  • Hygiene
  • Improvement In Food Resources
  • Integumentary System- Skin
  • Kingdom Fungi
  • Kingdom Monera
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  • Life Processes
  • Locomotion and Movement
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  • Molecular Basis of Inheritance
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  • Neural Control And Coordination
  • Nutrition in Human Beings
  • Organism and Population
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
  • Plant Growth and Development
  • Plant Kingdom
  • Pollination and Fertilization
  • Pollution; Sources and its effects
  • Principles of Inheritance and Variation
  • Reproduction and Development in Angiosperms
  • Reproduction in Organisms
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  • Respiration in Human Beings
  • Respiration in Plants
  • Respiratory System
  • Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants
  • Strategies for Enhancement in Food Production
  • Structural Organisation in Animals
  • Structural Organisation of the Cell
  • The Endocrine System
  • The Fundamental Unit Of Life
  • The Living World
  • The Nervous System and Sense Organs
  • Tissues
  • Transpiration
  • Transport in Plants

High School Math

  • Algebra – Arithmatic Progressions
  • Algebra – Complex Numbers and Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra – Linear Inequalities
  • Algebra – Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables
  • Algebra – Polynomials
  • Algebra – Principle of Mathematical Induction
  • Algebra – Quadratic Equations
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Calculus – Applications of Derivatives
  • Calculus – Applications of the Integrals
  • Calculus – Continuity and Differentiability
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  • Geometry – Area
  • Geometry – Circles
  • Geometry – Conic Sections
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  • Geometry – Introduction to Euclid’s Geometry
  • Geometry – Three-dimensional Geometry
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  • Geometry – Quadrilaterals
  • Geometry – Straight Lines
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  • Linear Programming
  • Matrices and Determinants
  • Mensuration – Areas
  • Mensuration – Surface Areas and Volumes
  • Number Systems
  • Number Systems – Real Numbers
  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability
  • Sequence and Series
  • Sets and Functions
  • Statistics 
  • Trignometry – Height and Distance
  • Trignometry – Identities
  • Trignometry – Introduction

Middle School Science

  • Acids, Bases And Salts
  • Air and Its Constituents
  • Basic Biology
  • Body Movements
  • Carbon and Its Compounds
  • Cell – Structure And Functions
  • Changes Around Us
  • Chemical Effects Of Electric Current
  • Chemistry in Your Life
  • Coal And Petroleum
  • Combustion And Flame
  • Components Of Food
  • Conservation Of Plants And Animals
  • Crop Production And Management
  • Electric Current And Its Effects
  • Electricity And Circuits
  • Elements and Compounds
  • Fibre To Fabric
  • Food production and management
  • Force And Pressure
  • Forests: Our Lifeline
  • Friction
  • Fun With Magnets
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out
  • Getting To Know Plants
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen
  • Life Processes: Nutrition in Animals and Plants
  • Light, Shadows And Reflections
  • Materials: Metals And Non-Metals
  • Matter and Its States
  • Metals and Non-metals
  • Micro Organisms: Friend And Foe
  • Motion And Measurement Of Distances
  • Motion And Time
  • Nutrition In Animals
  • Nutrition In Plants
  • Organization in Living Things
  • Our Environment
  • Physical And Chemical Changes
  • Pollution and conservation
  • Pollution Of Air And Water
  • Reaching The Age Of Adolescence
  • Reproduction In Animals
  • Reproduction In Plants
  • Respiration In Organisms
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Separation Of Substances
  • Simple Machines
  • Soil
  • Some Natural Phenomena
  • Sorting Materials Into Groups
  • Sound
  • Stars And The Solar System
  • Structure of Atom
  • Synthetic Fibers And Plastics
  • The Living Organisms And Their Surroundings
  • Transfer of Heat
  • Transformation of Substances
  • Transportation In Animals And Plants
  • Universe
  • Waste-water Story
  • Water: A Precious Resource
  • Weather, Climate And Adaptations Of Animals To Climate
  • Winds, Storms And Cyclones

Middle School Math

  • Addition
  • Area and Its Boundary
  • Boxes and Sketches
  • Data Handling
  • Fun With Numbers
  • Heavy and Light
  • How Many
  • Long And Short
  • Mapping
  • Measurement
  • Money
  • Multiplication and Factors
  • Multiply and Divide
  • Numbers
  • Parts and Wholes
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Patterns
  • Play With Patterns
  • Rupees And Paise
  • Shapes And Angles
  • Shapes And Designs
  • Shapes and Space
  • Similarity
  • Smart Charts
  • Squares
  • Subtraction
  • Tables And Shares
  • Tenths and Hundredths
  • Time
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